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Hozier and Noah Kahan: Two sides of the “modern folk” coin (Op-Ed)

Hozier, born Andew Hozier-Byrne, has been the image of the modern soul and indie rock genres ever since his breakout hit “Take Me to Church” in 2013. Catapulted into popularity through his soulful vocals and powerful backing tracks, he has established himself as one of the most popular modern artists, ranking 122nd in the world on Spotify.

Noah Kahan has dominated the genre as a budding artist with his immensely popular album “Stick Season” released in 2022. Employing a unique New England lilt over refined acoustics and effortlessly relatable, heart-wrenching lyrics, Kahan has captured the hearts and intrigued the minds of a global audience in an impressively short amount of time. 

Now, how do these two artists compare, if they do at all, and what does their place in the music industry reveal about alternative breakthroughs?

Although close in age, one could say that Hozier’s longstanding time in the spotlight and major public recognition has resulted in him being held through a more refined lens. His decade of releases and cult following have established him as one of the most well-loved artists, hailed for his emotionally vulnerable and highly artistic lyrics, as well as his likable demeanor and soft nature. His lyrics are overwhelmingly romantic, often chronicling passionate love stories and themes of yearning, loss, and deep admiration.

Kahan, alternatively, is a fresh face in playlists and profiles that has captured the attention of much of the same established fan base. Lyrically, he tends to focus more on a “homegrown” message, covering themes of nostalgia, flaws and insecurities, and hope. This tends to resonate deeply with Generation Z and millennial audiences, as many of the songs invoke feelings related to maturing, handling adulthood and responsibility, and feeling an ache for the past. 

Any lyrical or instrumental differences haven’t stopped these artists from releasing a highly anticipated collaborative track: “Northern Attitude (with Hozier).” Fans certainly noticed the similarities between these two artists. Often sharing a love for both, it makes perfect sense that a collaboration would be in order- and it certainly did not disappoint. 

Released in November, this version of Kahan’s biggest hit features Hozier’s vocals on the second verse and throughout the song, boosting the popularity of both artists at an even more elevated rate. 

Ultimately, it’s clear to see that both of these artists hold a deep respect for each other’s craft, brought together not only by their genre similarities and dedicated fan bases, but their simple differences that truly make an artist unique and worthy of the spotlight, welcomed by the open arms of “folks” worldwide. 


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